CHICKENHAWK: BACK IN THE WORLD by Robert Mason

CHICKENHAWK: BACK IN THE WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The trials and triumphs of a Vietnam vet, revealed in a soft- spoken, sometimes even bloodless sequel to Mason's acclaimed war memoir, Chickenhawk (1983). Since his return from Vietnam in 1966, Mason has led what seems a terrifically eventful life: Locked in debt with his wife and young son, he launched a successful mirror-manufacturing business; plunged back into poverty when his partner forced him out, he crewed a pot-smuggling ship--only to be caught and thrown into prison; trapped behind bars, he became a bestselling author and wrote a successful technothriller, Weapon (1989)--and all this backdropped by struggles with alcohol, Valium-addiction, and infidelity. But Mason's prose here is so without resonance that his story carries little punch--for example, in his discussion of his substance abuse: ``My body sent me a painful message, saying that it had developed an extreme dislike of alcohol. What a shock. Alcohol was as much a part of my biology as my blood. The message was a headache so horrible that I couldn't see straight....I switched to smoking pot....I began to feel better immediately.'' Potentially dramatic episodes mire in minutiae: The pot-smuggling cruise to Colombia--the book's centerpiece--bogs down in wrestlings with seasickness and broken machinery; the prison that Mason is sent to turns out to be a minimum-security one where his greatest concerns seem to be what job he'll get next (he graduates from landscaper to commissary clerk) and how his writing will fare (he quotes reviews of Chickenhawk at length). It's only when Mason flashes back to Vietnam or, early on, swoops through the sky in a chopper that his tale soars above the mundane. Forthright but flat-footed, and far less paradigmatic than Mason's first memoir. Enough of this author's life, already; henceforth, he should stick to his clever, winsome thrillers.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-670-84835-2
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992




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